Lesson of the Day: ‘A New Kind of Native American Dance Troupe’

Featured Article: “A New Kind of Native American Dance Troupe” by Brian Seibert

Indigenous Enterprise is a Native American dance troupe that is rooted in tradition, but also experiments with improvisation and hip-hop influences. In this lesson, you will learn about members of this Native American dance troupe as well as the evolution and significance of its work. Then, you will learn about other fights for Native American representation, repatriation and recognition.

Watch this five-minute video of the Indigenous Enterprise dance troupe. As you watch, respond to these three questions:

  • What is one thing you learned about Native American culture and dance traditions?

  • How do you feel watching the excerpts from the dances? Do they remind you of anything else you’ve seen or experienced?

Read the article, then answer the following questions:

1. What brought the two dance groups, Injury Reserve and Indigenous Enterprise, together? What was their first joint performance like?

2. What kind of energy does Kenneth Shirley try to create in his shows? How is that changing the face of what a Native American dance troupe can be?

3. How did members of Indigenous Enterprise learn the dances and other traditions that are now central to their troupe? What are some of Shirley’s early memories of learning the dances?

4. According to Acosia Red Elk, what is the history of the Jingle Dance? What does the dance mean to her personally?

5. How are Red Elk, and others, expanding traditional dances through improvisation? How have others reacted to those changes?

6. How do Taboo, Shirley and Tyrenn Lodgepole describe the connection between dance and activism?

7. What is your reaction to reading the article? Why?

The featured article focuses on ways that the Indigenous Enterprise dance troupe increases Native American representation. Now, learn about another fight for Native American representation, repatriation and recognition. Choose one of the six lessons from this article. Then, read the related article or video and complete the activity.

After completing the activity, reflect on how that example relates to the Indigenous Enterprise dance troupe, and in what ways it’s different. What more were you able to learn about Native American representation, repatriation or recognition from reading this second text?

Additional Teaching and Learning Opportunities

  • Watch a full-length performance. In 2019, Indigenous Enterprise performed at the Sydney Opera House. You can watch a recording of the performance to learn more about the dance practices. What stands out to you about the movements, regalia and music?

Want more Lessons of the Day? You can find them all here.

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